Society

The Poverty Line

I am poor. I have food, I have clothing, I have shelter. I have a job. I just financed a car. I have a kitten, I donate to the ACLU and I am still paying off my student loans and a credit card. On paper it all looks ok, but I know the truth. I am fighting every day for these things. Let’s say I lost my job tomorrow or I was injured and became unable to work. I don’t have enough saved to last me a ...

Inevitable Poverty—What did Jesus mean?

There’s a lot of talk right now about how to make a difference in the lives of the poor. Some people say that the government should give citizens a leg up. Others speak of personal responsibility. Some thread a gingerly path down the middle.  When you’re trying to work out how to approach poverty, and how to best help those in economic distress, it’s a challenge to know where to turn for guidance....

We need to change what it means to be patriots.

It was our first Sunday attending church in our new city. We were in a city with many Lutheran churches, so we had our pick, but we decided to start with the church right down the street. It was Fourth of July weekend. The worship service was patriotic, complete with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” And this politically moderate Lutheran was ready to run out of the building. It’s not tha...

A Quiet Act of Patriotism

It’s really hard to listen. Sure, if your best friend needs to talk about their terrible day or your partner needs to vent about their boss or their commute, you can probably handle that kind of listening. All of us need people in our lives who can hear our petty griefs and existential trials. But when it comes to people with opposite political beliefs, things get dicey. Most of us choose to avoid...

Spoiler Alert: Cancer Isn’t Just a Tragedy

You know that special kind of radar that turns on when you buy a new car? That 6th sense that draws your attention to every other dandelion-yellow Kia Sorento on the road? Yeah, that. That thing that won’t let you ignore that fact that the vehicle you just purchased, whatever it is, is most certainly the most popular vehicle in the entire world. Cancer survivors develop a similar sense, only inste...

Ignoring racism won’t fix it.

When I was six, I lived next-door to one of the most bigoted people I have ever encountered. There was a public field behind our houses, and if we walked through his yard to get to the field, he would come outside to yell at us. He even put up a one-foot high garden fence between our houses to show us the division. One day I made the mistake of walking through his yard. I was headed toward the fie...

Grown-Up Racism

I’m sure that every black American can tell you about the first time they encountered real, grown-up racism. Grown-up racism is different than the run-of-the-mill n-word enthusiastically yelled from the window of a passing car, or being followed through a store by the occasional overzealous security guard determined to catch you in the act of theft. Grown-up racism is the kind of racism that you e...

Community—Have you found it?

Recently, I interviewed an administrator for a coalition of churches in another state struggling with an enormous drug problem. “How can churches be useful in tackling a drug crisis?” I asked him. Frankly, I was a little skeptical. In many parts of the country, churches are treading water, along with other social pillars we used to take for granted: volunteer charitable organizations, bowling leag...

It’s just a thing…but I lost it.

I had arrived early (not NORMALLY my style) to my weekly yoga practice. I decided to take advantage of one of our first truly warm spring days of the season and walked around the studio’s parking lot to de-fog my brain from a busy day. I helped get the studio set up for class and took some time to focus as the workout began. In the middle of my flow from Downward Facing Dog to Plank and back to Do...

My Battle with Stuff

It was stupid, really. Our family had recently moved from Detroit, Michigan, to a much smaller town in northern Illinois. I vacillated between anger and sadness as I watched my parents put an offer on an attractive older home away from my new friends’ neighborhoods. It was a home that clearly identified us as lower middle class. I hated that house when I compared it to my friends’ nicer, newer hom...

You and I impact the environment—in any political climate.

Christian teachings say that God’s children are to be stewards of their environments. Some subgroups even go so far as to label themselves “Green Christians,” who practice “creation care,” which basically means caring for God’s creations. The bible repeatedly tells us to rule over the land and all living things in it, but reminds us that it is not ours to keep. Just as you are supposed to return s...

We’re Failing Our Planet

As noble as the idea of stewardship is, where’s the evidence that it’s working for us? For decades, we’ve been relying on the notion that we can be effective stewards of our world. Let’s examine that assumption. What do stewards do? They are responsible for something—in this case, keeping the air, water, animals and earth clean and healthy. They are accountable to something or someone—if you’re a ...